South Sudan is close to another famine, aid officials said yesterday, after more than four years of civil war and failed ceasefires in the world's youngest nation. Almost two-thirds of the population will need food aid this year to stave off starvation and malnutrition as aid groups prepare for the "toughest year on record", members of a working group including South Sudanese and U.N. officials said.
"The situation is extremely fragile, and we are close to seeing another famine. The projections are stark. If we ignore them, we'll be faced with a growing tragedy," said Serge Tissot, from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in South Sudan.
A total of 5.3 million people, 48 percent of the population, are already in "crisis" or "emergency" - stages three and four on a five point scale, according to a survey published by the working group.
The U.N. declared a famine in two districts in February, but said that crisis had started to ease in June last year. "We are expecting to face the toughest year on record," U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Alain Noudehou told a press conference in the South Sudanese capital Juba. Records for South Sudan began when it declared independence from Sudan in July, 2011.